Safari! Tuesday was the first of a three day journey to the western part of Kenya called Masai Mara. While the focus of our trip is obviously the community and church projects in Nairobi, it would have been hard to come to Kenya and not see the wildlife, landscape, and tribal people that make Kenya and Africa so unique. Tuesday afternoon, after driving 6 hours on the bumpiest and yet most scenic road I have ever been on, we went on a short game run at the National Park (1500 square kilometers) and then found our campsite (tents that believe it or not had a toilet and shower in them). On Wednesday we did an all day game run starting at 6:30am followed by a campfire with smores! and traditional Masai dancers and storytelling. Then on Thursday we did another morning game run, visited a Masai village, and traveled 6 hours back to Nairobi and Shalom House on the same bumpy road.
The animals were great! We were able to see zebras, elephants, giraffes, aarons, buffalo, hippos, baboons, gazelle, vultures, lions, jackels, and much more! It was Wednesday morning when we saw 10 lions (mostly female - they are the ones who do the hunting) eating a zebra they had killed earlier that morning. Because they were so occupied with their breakfast, our bus along with 10-15 others were able to get within 10 feet of the lions. The coolest part was went one of the few male lions, in order to protect the others, slowely approached our bus when Lori left the door open too long to take a picture. There was no danger for us but we got some sweet pictures.
The other amazing experience on our Safari was learning about and interacting with the Masai. One in particular was named Amos. His story is similar to all the others. Amos lives in the village as one of the many male warriors (meaning he was already circumcised between age 13-20). The village has around 75 members living in 15 huts made of cow dung and situated in a circle surrounded by a fence made of sticks to keep animals out. They own around 175 cattle that all stay in their camp at night. Their diet consists of milk, blood, and meat - the milk coming straight from the cows every morning (sometimes even directly into their mouths - it is better this way), the blood from the cows necks (poked once every 2 weeks), and the meat from goats and cows. Instead of money, the number of cows show how wealthy a person or a family is. Also, the chief often has 5 or more wives and rotates living in a different hut every night, and is able to get more wives by having more cows. Amos' friend Patrick told me that they practice Catholicism (probably coming from the the missionaries running their schools) and the Kenyan government requires one child from each family to go to primary school. The Masai are also nomadic. They will not live in one place for more than 10 years and the men often take the herds miles away during the day to find good grass for the cattle to graze on - always returning by sun down. The women stay back with the children and make the huts as well as make jewelry. In addition to all this, traditional Masai dancing is common, they showed us how to make fire with two types of wood, and they supposedly are very healthy, never having to go to the hospital.
This whole journey took place in the Rift Valley, a BEAUTIFUL valley surrounded by mountains that stretch from somewhere in Tanzania all the way up into Egypt. This is the place both scientists and theologians agree on as being the beginning of humans, and provided sites that were both breathtaking and left our group speachless. No camera or words could ever come close to describing the landscape. God knew what he was doing in creating Adam and Eve in this place!